By Dr. Satish Sathyanarayana
Spinal afflictions are a growing menace in today’s society especially keeping in mind the poor lifestyle and physical activities in general. It is important to remember that a healthy spine is fundamental to helping individuals carry out the daily requirements. Neglecting spinal issues can cause irreparable damage in the long run. Not only is posture important but so is nutrition. On World Spine Day, let us come together in highlighting the importance of spinal care especially in the post pandemic world when a number of working professionals are carrying out their duties from home, often neglecting the correct posture.
HOW COMMON IS SPINAL PROBLEMS (BACKACHE / NECK PAIN)
Low back ache (LBP) is one of the most common ‘ Painful Conditions ’ next only to headache for which one seek medical attention Over 80 % of adults would have suffered at least one episode of significant back ache by the age of 60 years and about 20 % of them would have had a major attack requiring hospitalization or brief bed rest . It is estimated globally that about 1.5 to 2 billion people suffer from back ache every year and close to 300 billion USD is spent in the treatment including surgery. In addition it is estimated that over 12 million work days are lost every year.
IMPORTANCE OF SPINE & ITS CARE;
“ Spine “ is an unique skeletal structure a chain of bones made of differently shaped & sized individual “ Vertebrae” with close to 72 complex joints and ligaments . It holds together the entire body including the limbs and maintains balance in all positions (sitting, standing, and sleeping) as well as in motion. Spine itself is stabilized in various position as well as set in motion by a number of muscles attached to it. Apart from the skeletal functions it does important function of protecting spinal cord and nerve roots which are within it. Hence it is one of the essential systems of the human body which is important to maintain the structural and functional integrity all through one’s life. It is hence subjected to physical strains and stresses of daily activities making it prone for injury resulting in painful dysfunction. It carries risks of damage to the vital spinal cord and nerves associated with it leading to limb paralysis.
WHAT CAUSES BACK PAIN AND NECK PAIN:
Injury to the muscles and ligaments attached to the spine is the most common cause for back & neck pain. It can be caused during strain of daily activities, work as well as sports. These muscles & ligaments need proper nutrition and exercises to stay healthy. They can also get affected in various conditions like anemia, vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, rheumatological problems, etc.
The vertebral column (the chain of bone) along with its joints and a load bearing Intervertebral discs are subjected to wear and tear of daily activities , ageing , nutritional deficiency (Osteomalacia & Osteoporosis ) , injures causing fractures , disc herniation , arthritis ,infection , primary and secondary tumors which all can give rise to neck and backache .
HOW TO MAINTAIN SPINE HEALTH:
Since the bones (vertebrae) , joints (facets), ligaments , discs and muscles are always in action they obviously need good nutrition specially the minerals like calcium , magnesium , iron , vitamin D & B complex apart from protein . To maintain and repair hormonal balances is also important.
Apart from proper nutrition daily exercises and balanced activities as well as resting (Stretching) is absolutely essential to maintain health of these structures.
Excess of weight increases load not only on spine but the entire skeletal system and strains the heart as well. Hence maintaining appropriate weight is very important.
Smoking affects the health of all structures of spine as well.
Though this structure of human body is developed several million years ago there is rapid change in our life style in the last couple of centuries. The life style changes include the use of furniture, vehicles gadgets machine etc., which add to the strains on spine in our daily activities. This human body designed for a “food gathering “homosapiens millions of years ago has not yet fully adopted to the demands of modern life. Hence we need to pay attention to maintain and prevent injuries by understandings its structure and functional capabilities. Of course the remedies for correction of the damages starting from pain relief by physical methods, retraining as well as surgical interventions in certain conditions are evolving.
The whole aim of treatment of “ Spinal afflictions “ is not only to relieve pain but to restore “activity “ and prevent further damage to both the skeletal structure and the vital spinal cord and nerves . To achieve this diagnosis as to the cause of this pain & paralysis is most vital. Treatment may be as simple as rest for couple of days and avoiding the recognizable ‘strain’ to a major spinal surgery. However in both situations rehabilitation to get back to normal activity is of fore most importance for a long term good result.
The world spine day is being celebrated to bring this awareness to preserve this vital spine and spinal cord for a healthy active life. This year theme is “move years spine “to keep it healthy and active.
By far the commonest causes of the pain arising from spinal structures is wear and tear when subjected to abnormal straining. A weaker structure is prone for early and frequent injury. Hence one has to keep the spinal structure in good health all through our life.
About the Author
By Dr. Satish Sathyanarayana, Senior Consultant, Clinical & Academic Advisor – Department of Neuro Surgery – Apollo Hospitals