Docs: Spinal Problems Are On The Rise
For eight months, 69–year–old Pedder Road resident Mohini Shah (name changed) met several doctors and popped various pills to treat her back problem. "She would suffer a spasm every time she tried to stand up. It was extremely painful and severely restricted her movements," said her daughter–in–law Rashmi.
Mohini isn’t the only one. While there are no exact numbers available on patients with spine–related problems, doctors say that lower back pain is one of the commonest reasons–after common cold–for taking an off from work. "Low back pain is estimated to afflict 80% of the population at some point during their lives," said pain specialist Dr Preeti Doshi from Jaslok Hospital on Pedder Road.
Spine surgeon Dr Samir Dalvie from Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, believes that the incidence of backaches is on the rise. "While there are no studies in India to indicate just how many patients suffer from Spinal Problems, the steady stream of patients to our clinics itself is an indicator," said Dr Dalvie.
Mohini met Dr Doshi in September this year and decided to take a special nerve root block, basically a transforaminal epidural injection that dulls pain. "Around 90% of the pain is gone. The doctors assure us that she will be able to do physiotherapy that will strengthen her back," said Rashmi.
While age–related Spinal Problems are not uncommon, doctors say that young people are also succumbing to them. They blame the trend on sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise. "Spinal Problems are related to occupations. On one end of the spectrum, you have patients who suffer back problems because they have to lift weights, on the other end you have patients whose desk jobs give them back problems," said Dr Dalvie.
On the eve of World Spine Day on Wednesday, a citybased chain of spine clinics called Qi released a study that showed that the root cause of the problem for 57% of their 4,000 patients was sedentary lifestyle. "Around 31% of the patients who were at major risk were businessmen or self–employed men," said Dr Garima Anandani from QI.
On the bright side, doctors said that there are enough surgical and nonsurgical treatments available for patients with back problems. "Around 90% of the patients don’t need surgery if their problems are found early enough," said Dr Doshi. Dr Dalvie said that advanced keyhole spine surgeries could ensure that people’s lives are not disrupted.HURT LOCKER
- Back pain affects millions of people of all ages in all cultures and countries
- The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 estimated that back pain affected 632 million people and neck pain affected 332 million
- Back pain is the second most common reason to take leave from office (after common cold)
- Lower backache is the leading cause of disability worldwide, contributing 10.7% of the total years lived with disability. Major depression contributes 8.1%
- The most important and vulnerable part of the back is the lumbar spine or the lower back. It is responsible for our ability to lift, twist or bend
- The lumbar contains five vertebrae (known as L1 to L5)
- As this section bears most of the body’s weight, lower back problems can cause pain that radiates down the legs to the feet
- The lumbar spine’s lowest two spinal segments–L4–L5 and L5–S1–bear the most weight and are hence most prone to degradation and injury
- The lumbar spine meets the sacrum at the lumbosacral joint (L5–S1). This joint allows rotation to enable the pelvis and hips to swing while walking
Times of India
16 October 2013, Mumbai, India.