Practically everyone on this planet at least once might have experienced back pain. Our spine undergoes a lot of wear and tear throughout life. So 16th October each year focuses on educating people about spine and its conditions and motivate them to restore their spinal health and wellbeing, especially after being indoors for a long time in this pandemic.
“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”– Joseph Pilates
This proverb rightly entails the importance of spine health in population.
In India, occurrence of low back pain is alarming having prevalence of 60%. It affects day-to-day activities and also the performance at work-place. So, identifying poor posture and improper lifting techniques is paramount. For this, your physiotherapist is trained to find the source of your problems and work with you to correct them.
How physiotherapy intervention helps to maintain your spine healthy?
- Lifestyle Modification :
Awareness about importance of spine health in all age groups is paramount.
Appropriate nutrition, hydration, regular exercise, good sleep and smoking cessation on a regular basis is an important part of management of spine health.
In a recent study, high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was found in patients with degenerative diseases of the spine. It was also observed that Vitamin D deficiency increased pain in patient with back pain. Hence taking proper calcium rich food and vitamin D supplements are essential to maintain spine healthy.
2. Ergonomics : It is defined as scientific study of people and their working conditions, especially done in order to improve their efficiency and health.
As ‘work from home’ convenience has encouraged more poor sitting posture, long hour static work, no in-between breaks. This causes abnormal loading of spine. Over time, poor posture may lead to muscle imbalance, and problems of spinal joints and discs. All of these can be major contributors for neck and back pain.
So here are some ergonomic measures to maintain healthy spine:
- Identifying Good posture.
- Sitting with appropriate support.
Back support: maintains the normal curve of spine, helping to reduce fatigue and stiffness. A small towel roll or lumbar roll/lumbar support of chair can be used to support the small of the back while sitting.
Seat cushion: reduces back pain, relieves stress on spine and improves sitting posture.
- Proper lifting techniques
- Frequent breaks in-between and change of position.
Rest periods should be used to relax when muscles are tired, to move around when muscles are stiff, to walk when work restricts an individual’s ability to change postures or positions, and so on.
- Proper sleeping position and mattresses.
Medium firm density mattress can be used to reduce strain on your spine, improve your posture and prevent you from feeling stiff and sore when you wake up.
- For students, backpack loads have been suggested to range from 10% to as high as 25% of their body weight which may have a negative impact on their body. With the growing spine vulnerable to physical stresses predisposes adolescents to back pain. Carrying double strap backpack with 10% of their body weight is relatively good for spine.
3. Maintenance of flexibility:
Yoga and stretching helps improve flexibility of muscles in order to improve spinal health and performance but should be performed under the guidance of experts.
4. Core Exercises :
Why is the Core so Important?
Let’s get to know its important functions:
- Multilevel segmental support to spine
- Distribution of weight
- Produce force and dynamically stabilize spine against abnormal forces
- Also protects abdominal organs
Which are my core muscles?
For appropriate activation of core muscles, cues and imagery are used to increase the connection of your core muscles with your breath. This gives awareness of the right muscle contractions which is very important. Your physiotherapist will help you achieve it precisely.
What does your MRI scan says?
Coming to MRI and x-rays, I would like to bring to your attention that age-related changes are commonly found in spine imaging but often occur in pain-free individuals as well as those with back pain. Research studies have revealed that when an abnormality is identified on MRI or x-ray, it should be properly correlated and its clinical significance ascertained before being labeled as the source of back pain. Hence, any such abnormality should not bother you until you do not have symptoms associated with it or until your healthcare professional finds clinical correlation.
So on this occasion of World Spine Day, let us be aware of our spinal health to prevent aches and pains associated with it and seek appropriate health at the right time to prevent worsening of the symptoms.
Wishing you all Happy World Spine Day!!
Authored by- Dr Prathamesh Turai (PT) Masters in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
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