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Our slavish devotion to our computers is putting our backs at risk. And those beloved laptops were designed to be portable and should not be used for long periods.
Nobody wants to endure pain and if we have to suffer from any kind of pain on a regular basis, it impacts on the quality of our lives in so many ways.
Back pain is surprisingly common and even factors like depression, anxiety or stress can bring on a sudden pain in the lower back. All pain can disturb our sleep. So much so that we might need insomnia treatment.
The human spine is very complex and of course we constantly abuse this hardworking part of our body.
Some of the more common spinal conditions
- Degenenerative disc disease
- Stenosis and spinal fractures
We need to think seriously about how we can protect our backs
- Lose weight because being over overweight is a major cause.
- Be mobile as activity can help to cure and prevent chronic pain - gone are the days when experts recommended bed rest.
- For severe pain try the warm or the cold treatment by placing a heated pad or packet of frozen peas (wrapped in a tea towel) for 15 minutes every couple of hours and you will discover which you prefer.
- Take painkillers if necessary but obviously be careful about this.
- Avoid lifting and carrying heavy objects but if you do have to lift, then bend your knees and not your back while keeping your fee wide apart for stability to encourage the muscles in the legs to take the bulk of the weight.
- When working at a computer for long periods, take short breaks every hour by standing up, walking around or stretching - your chair should have a back rest support that conforms to the curves in your back.
- Sit up as straight as possible in your chair - when first sitting down, push your bottom as far back in the chair as possible as this will help you keep that back straight once you sit up.
What about persistent back pain?
If you have persistent back pain and/or radiating leg pain, you need to be examined by your doctor. He will take a history of your pain, together with any activities that may have set off your back pain symptoms, to help him in his diagnosis and treatment. He may send you for X-rays to give him a full picture of what is going on.
Once your doctor has decided on what the problem is, he will come up with solutions that may even include surgery. Non surgical options you may consider are acupuncture, chiropractic care; epidural steroid injections; special exercise; medication or even physical therapy. It is wise to try non surgical treatment first but if the pain has not subsided after a few weeks or months of conservative treatments, then surgery may be considered.
If surgery is the best option, then you need to be fully informed of what is involved so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of any operation. The younger you are, the more successful the operation is likely to be and of course surgical techniques, post operative care and knowledge about exercise and recovery after any operation improve constantly. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for surgery.
The surgical options are: minimally invasive disectomy; minimally invasive laminotomy; laminectomy; spinal fusion surgery; anterior lumbar interbody fusion; posterior lumbar interbody fusion and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion.
Of course they all sound quite serious to the lay person
Even though it is not always known if a treatment will work well for you, it is still a good idea to become as educated as you can on what to expect in terms of success rates and about what can positively influence the outcome such as the skills the spine specialist should have, the technology available and more.
It will take some effort and research but you want your back to function as well as it possibly can.