Say NO to back pain!
A back just doesn’t get appreciated until it begins to hurt or interfere with activities. Here are some spine statistics and back pain tips…
- 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time
- 60% of non-specific back pain is resolved without medical intervention
- 25 – 40% of people with back pain seek healthcare and rehabilitation
- 60 – 75% of back pain sufferers have recurrences
- Worldwide, back pain costs economies more than any other disease
- It is estimated that 60% of people complain about back problems after going on a long car journey
- Back pain is the leading cause of disability for workers between the ages of 19 and 45
Get to know your spine
The spine is, as you know, that flexible bone column that extends from the base of your skull to your tailbone. It consists of 33 vertebrae.
There are cartilaginous cushions between the vertebrae, called intervertebral discs, that act as shock absorbers.
Facet joints are between the vertebrae and guide spinal movement.
What causes spinal pain?
- Poor posture and inactivity
- Prolonged exposure to sitting and poor workstation set-up
- Increased body weight, especially around the abdomen
- Stress and anxiety
- Degeneration due to old age, trauma, and overload, inadequate ‘core stability’ support
What can go wrong?
Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint characterized by swelling, pain, and restriction of movement. It is usually referred to as osteoarthritis in the spine. It is also known as spondylosis.
Disc degeneration: A change in the structural and functional integrity of the disc.
Lumbago: Non-medical term signifying pain in the lower back.
Osteoporosis: A disorder in which bone is abnormally brittle.
Sciatica: Pain along the course of the sciaticCur nerve in the back of the thigh and below the knee. This can be caused by irritation of a nerve found anywhere from the back of the thigh.
Scoliosis: A curvature of the spinal column.
Slipped disc: Partial or complete displacement of the gel-like tissue inside the disc, due to disruption of the outer fibrous tissue. Also known as slipped disc, ruptured disc or herniated disc.
Spinal stenosis: The narrowing of the spine, commonly caused by degenerative changes in the discs or joints.
Whiplash: Injury caused by rapid and uncontrolled movement of the neck caused by an external force like in a car accident or other incident.
How to avoid spinal pain
- Develop good posture, keep an ideal body weight and minimize stress
- Stay active, fit and flexible. Stretching – something we do instinctively even as babies – is vital.
- Ensure good ‘core stability’ through exercises. Pilates, isometrics, yoga, and similar disciplines are specifically geared at stretching and developing core strength
- Avoid long periods of sitting. Stand up and walk around at least every hour. Ensure ergonomically sound workstation set-up
- Lift carefully and correctly. Plan ahead before lifting an object and keep it close to your body. Feet should be shoulder-width apart, bend knees while keeping back straight and tighten your stomach muscles.
- If you have back pain, see your doctor. When back pain is persistent or interferes with normal activities, a visit to a Physical Therapist may be necessary.
Sources: The South African Society of Physiotherapy, http://www.health24.com/Medical/Backache