Do you experience bouts of backache? Yoga can help
Yoga and muscle-relaxation therapies can cure most of the pain. Surgeries may be required to set right only serious injuries.
Updated: Dec 20, 2016, 11.58 AM IST
Nishant Sharma was walk ing on a street in Bengaluru when a biker almost knocked him down. Shaken, Nishant tottered on the uneven pavement for a bit before regaining balance. He reached office and buried himself in work. But by the end of the day, his lower back had started hurting. Sharma immediately related the discomfort to the biker incident.
The pain persisted and he decided to see an orthopaedist. At the doctor's clinic he bumped into a friend who had come looking for relief from back pain which he said was triggered by depression.
Sharma and his friend were lucky to the extent that they could guess the cause of their backaches. But not all backaches can be immediately related to events. “Most people seem to think there's a specific event such as an ill-judged bending effort which causes backache, which is perhaps true to a certain extent, but many times, patients are not able to pinpoint a specific incident,“ says Dr Suresh Krishnamurthy of Parklane Orthopaedic & Medical Centre in Bengaluru.
The `why' of backache can run into pages. However, Dr Prakruthi AS, consultant at Prakruth i Ayur Health Center, Bengaluru, says, “The IT revolution has spawned a sedentary lifestyle, leading to wrong postures. The spinal cord turns stiff in professionals who sit for hours and do not exercise.“ According to her, the spinal cord and the surrounding muscles have to be relaxed properly. Krishnamurthy's observation that “virtually everyone gets backache at some point of time“ underlines the fact that it is much more common than we think it is.
Does physical activity cause backache? Not really. “Less physically active individuals who may indulge in an ill-judged bending effort are more prone to backache than the labourer who does physically strenuous work regularly ,“ says Krishnamurthy . “By and large, the severe causes of backaches are relatively a small number in the general population,“ he says.
The first thing a doctor does when a person with a troubled back comes in is to get his story. “I do not reach out to feel his back because it would tell me nothing. I want to know how long the pain has been going on for and how it is affecting the patient. If the patient says he has backache but it is not stopping him from going about his day-to-day activities, I can be reasonably sure that the person is going to get better. If, however, he feels that it is the end of the world for him, the prognosis has to be more guarded,“ says Krishnamurthy . (See Box `Reading the Ache')
The good news is that most patients with backache get better with reassurance and symptomatic relief. “In a majority of cases, there's nothing you need to do but to reassure patients and keep them comfortable.And they get better. An X-ray or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for everyone with backache is not justified. The not-so-good news is that backaches do recur. You may get better from one episode but if you have a vulnerable back and you do things that upset your back, the ache comes back,“ he says.
Prakruthi too holds out hope. “Yoga and muscle-relaxation therapies can cure most of the pain. Surgeries may be required to set right only serious injuries,“ she says.
A patient's recovery also depends on how the doctor talks about his health.“If the doctor shocks the patient by saying `your disc has popped out' or `your back is crumbling', it could only add to his stress. Most problems are not as dramatic as that. It could be that just a bit of the disc material -not the disc itself -may have squeezed out,“ says Krishnamurthy .
“Faulty beliefs can lead to catastrophisation,“ he adds. The most common misguided belief is that the patient feels he has something serious causing him problem, usually cancer.
Krishnamurthy normally waits for four weeks before starting any investigation if clinical checks are nor mal, the pain is manageable and there aren't any red flags which signal that something could be critical.Active rest' -which means a patient ` can do what he can within the limits of the pain -is advised. If the pa tient gets better, physiotherapy , back care and postural correction are enough. If not, an X-ray and then an MRI are needed. “ A scan will pick out a majority of organic pathologies, which can help in starting the clinical treatment,“ he says.
Stress and ache
Backaches have a close relation to stress levels and the emotional outlook of the patient. Family support goes a long way in making a patient feel secure if it is not overbearing.
“Maintaining a good posture right from the childhood is very important,“ says Prakruthi. She advises regular checkups for individuals over 30 years of age. “Most people are not exposed to sunlight. Apart from calcium, they need vitamin-D supplements. Mineral-rich food is a must,“ she adds.
People must take extra care when they are on a vehicle because they are at the risk of damaging their back while driving on uneven roads.
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