The ‘pandemic posture’, referring to poor posture at ‘work from home’ which gained prominence in the covid pandemic, resulted in a new and more potent Avataar of the otherwise much silent ‘back-pain pandemic’.
As ‘workplace ergonomics’ have already gained the much required popularity, and are being discussed everywhere, we, here, try to project some must-know-facts about this demon.
WHAT IS IT?
Low back pain is pain in the lower back, Which may radiate to the buttock, thigh, leg, foot or toes.
When we say ‘back pain’, it usually refers to the much commoner ‘low’ back pain. And, the ‘neck pain’ goes hand in hand with the back pain, almost everyone with a back complaint experience neck pain or stiffness one time or the other.
It is one of the most common problems, with which a person consults a doctor, both in primary care and emergency settings. The effect of low back pain on society is so enormous that 90 percent of the world population suffer from it at least once in lifetime, negatively impacting activities of daily living.
WHY DOES IT OCCUR?
The most common cause for back pain is mechanical, which can be either due to a direct injury to the backbone or to the structures attached to it, or due to excessive stress on the back due to obesity, pregnancy, abnormal body posture while sitting, standing or lifting heavy objects. The next common cause is degeneration or aging of the disc, small spinal joints and osteoporosis of vertebrae. Other rare, but serious, causes are inflammation, infection and cancers of the spine. Sometimes, diseases of the lung, gallbladder, kidneys or uterus may present with back pain.
According to various reports, there is a very high prevalence of back pain in the UAE, with 6 in every 10 residents affected by it. The cause, specific to the region, being less outdoor activity to avoid the sweltering heat, Which In turn leads to obesity, vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis.
WHEN SHOULD YOU RUSH TO SEE A DOCTOR?
When you have back pain and you meet any one of the criteria mentioned below, its time to consult an orthopedic doctor for assessment, without any delay.
- Age under 5 or above 70,
- History of cancer,
- Unexplained weight loss,
- Significant trauma,
- Corticosteroid use,
- Weakness or numbness in the legs,
- Urine retention or incontinence,
- Fecal incontinence,
- Morning stiffness,
- Night time pain,
- Exposure to a patient with tuberculosis.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Timely intervention is the key to averting these bothering aches that steal the youthful self.
Back pain of few days duration can simply go off with adequate and proper rest alone.
But, chronic back pain requires an integrative approach. If modalities such as home exercises, yoga, stretches and physiotherapy don’t offer relief and the pain persists, medications as well as interventional procedures may be indicated based on the etiology.
Interventional pain procedures that can reduce or even eliminate pain include epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, facet joint blocks and sacroiliac joint injections among others. Very few require surgeries (decompression or fusion) but results can be gratifying.
HOW CAN WE AVOID IT?
- Maintain your BMI under 25
- Quit smoking
- Restrict book bag weight to 10% of your child’s body weight
- Ensure proper work place ergonomics
- The way you sit, stand, sleep or work around with weights has an impact on your back.
- Ideal body posture is crucial to recovery
Stop nurturing your back complaint from progressing into a full blown, chronic, devastating and demoralizing health issue.
90% HAVE BACK PAIN!
10 % DONT HAVE A COMPUTER!!!
Dr. Jameer Shaik
Specialist – Orthopedics