If you have ever experienced neck or back pain, or know someone who has, you must have seen its detrimental effect on the quality of life of the person affected. Most neck/back pain occurs as a result of degenerative changes that occur in the spine as a result of normal aging and wear and tear mechanisms. As life is becoming more sedentary and with the advent of the work from home concept with the COVID era, we have seen an increase in the incidence of lifestyle-related neck and back pain issues even in young healthy adults. The pain is often debilitating enough to make one forgo certain activities and even may cause difficulties in doing their daily jobs. Alongside it can spur depression, stress, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
Most typically, neck/back pain results from a muscle strain, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, poor tone due to inactivity, or over-use/exertion. Fortunately, you can improve your neck/back pain by following a simple routine to keep your spine healthy.
Let your spine rest as well whilst you sleep
While you are lying down and resting, all the muscles in the body relax which have been fatigued over the day. A firm mattress and neck pillow may be used to support your spine while sleeping in a comfortable way.
Strengthen your core and back muscles
Your core muscles (lower back and abdomen) need to be strong to support your back. Unfortunately, this muscle group is seldom put to use in our day-to-day activities. Check with your doctor, physiotherapist, or internet to learn which core strengthening exercises may be appropriate for you
Footwear does matter for your spine
Shoes form the base on which our body rests and help maintain the alignment of spine. Wearing high heels for prolonged periods is not only harmful for the feet but also for the lower back.
Why Slouch? When you can sit straight
The intervertebral discs are more loaded in the sitting position, so slouching while sitting can create pr aggravate an existing spine problem. Choosing a right seating chair, stretching after prolonged sitting and practicing good sitting posture can help keep your spine healthy
Exercise – that’s the new lifestyle
Simple physical fitness including stretching exercises and strengthening back, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles can go a long way ahead. Go for a morning walk, stay in motion and indulge your spine with exercises. Also, while working out, avoid back injury by resorting to proper lifting techniques.
Choose your food wisely
Diet plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy spine. Foods rich in calcium, essential nutrients, and vitamins can help fight problems like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. A healthy diet, over time, helps you maintain a healthy weight and in turn a healthy spine. So, avoid junk and eat healthily.
If you have chronic pain or discomfort, meditation often helps to fight it. Choose a place where you feel carefree and comfortable to make meditation even more effective.
Planning to shed those extra kilos? Now’s the right time
Maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight places undue strain on your back and lower limb joints, ultimately leading to early degeneration of spine, hip and knee joints.
Smoking increases the likelihood of degenerative spine ailments and affects the normal healing mechanisms of the body. Quitting is difficult, but an essential for keeping away thousands of other diseases.
Soothe your pain with Heat/Cold therapy
Application of heat (hot water, warm gel packs, etc.) to muscles increases the blood flow and helps reduce muscle spasms. Cold compresses help reduce inflammation. You may try alternate hot and cold compresses and see what works best for you.
Seek a doctor’s advice
If the pain is still persistent, do not self-medicate yourself. It is always wise to consult a specialist and undergo an examination for accurate diagnosis and management of your problems.
Article By Dr Kushal Gohil, MBBS, MS(Ortho), DNB(Ortho), FISS, F.ASSI, Consultant Spine Surgeon, Kothari Medical Centre, Kolkata
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kushalgohil7/
About the Doctor: Dr. Kushal Gohil is a Consultant Spine Surgeon (Ortho) and Spine & Pain Specialist in Alipore, Kolkata, and has an experience of 7 years in these fields. Dr. Kushal Gohil practices at Kothari Medical Centre in Alipore, Kolkata.
Dr.Kushal Gohil is a member of the Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSI), Bombay Orthopaedic Society, and AOSpine.