Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fight back pain

Back pain is one of the most common complaints among people of all classes, affecting both men and women. Earlier the vanguard for old age, back pain has now become a major cause for concern for the late 20's to 40's age group. Back pain affects any of the 26 bones connected by muscles, ligaments and discs that constitute the spine.

Back pain is mainly of three types. When the soft tissues in the spinal column get stressed due to poor posture, it is called Postural Syndrome. When the fluid nucleus in the disc gets pushed out of the normal position, or 'slipped disc', the other tissues come under tremendous pressure. This is called Derangement Syndrome. Dysfunction Syndrome is the shortening of the muscles, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues resulting in limited movement and sporadic back pain.

Dr Kaushal Malhan, Joint Replacement Surgeon says, "75 per cent to 80 per cent patients today complain of severe back pain due to poor posture. The changes in occupation, a more sedentary lifestyle, long hours of sitting in offices, minimal exercising are the chief reasons for this ailment. 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the cases involve the overuse of the back." Not surprisingly, office-goers form the bulk of those afflicted. Shalini Chhutani, 24, a bank employee, says "I have been suffering from back pain for the last three months." She agrees that this could be a lifestyle problem.

In addition to this, the weakening of the core muscle group that comprises Transverse Abdominus (TA) and the Multifidus, lessens the stability of the back. "The TA is the deepest layer of muscle in the abdomen and takes maximum weight strain off the spine. When you strengthen this core group, backache reduces," says Dr Crystal, Physiotherapist.

But help is at hand. Most doctors agree that most back pain can be cured by some simple exercises and precautions, along with some clinical guidance. Walking, hip-rolls, stretching help a great deal. Pilates, the choice of stars like Madonna and Melanie Griffith strengthens the abdominal muscles and the spine. "It helps you connect with the muscles close to your spine", says Madhuri Ruia, health expert.

The benefits of a good diet cannot be overlooked. She says, "Calcium and magnesium are key minerals in the strengthening of the bone. Fish, grains, pumpkin, til seeds (sesame) and leafy vegetables are a good source of these. Drinking a lot of water and having a balanced diet go a long way in preventing backache. Naini Setalvad, nutrition expert recommends vitamin D3 and Vitamin C, calcium and phosphate to strengthen the spine. "Ragi or nachni, sesame seeds, dried figs, beet and prunes are all good for the back."

Not to be forgotten, yoga has proven its worth innumerable times. Lal Chhutani, a 67-year-old man, says, "I have been doing yoga since the past 3-4 years. Also, walking for an hour daily and eating meals at the right time helps a lot." Currently, surgeries like the minimally invasive surgery, spine fusion and navigation are recommended by doctors for severe cases of back pain. However, the pros and cons of these surgeries need to be considered. Apart from these, simple stretching exercises can help.

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