By: Natasha Archary
Not as limber as you used to be in your early twenties? That’s expected. As you age, it’s not uncommon for aches and pains to become a normal part of life. With World Spine Health Day being observed annually on the 16 October, here’s what you need to know about keeping your spine healthy as you age.
Love your spine
That was the theme this year. Millions of health professionals, exercise and rehabilitation experts, public health advocates, children and patients the world over took part in exercise initiatives to raise awareness on spinal health.
Promoting a more active lifestyle, good posture, healthy working conditions and responsible lifting were all featured to encourage people to learn more about the spine.
An estimated one billion people worldwide suffer with back pain and/or have complications with their spines. Spinal injuries and chronic back pain are the biggest cause of disability in the world.
Prevention is therefore key and stressing the need for better healthcare and accessibility to dedicated spinal health experts remains a primary factor for patients. It’s not just impoverished countries that find difficulty in treating their conditions. In high-income countries, where back pain affects millions, the result is enormous pressure on the income and economy.
How to keep your spine healthy with age
It may not be possible to guard yourself from back pain completely. Over 30 to 40% of the population in the country is said to suffer from chronic back pain. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical issue at hospitals in South Africa.
Back pain may be caused by injury, inflammation, mechanical conditions or a multiple array of syndromes. A slipped disc is another common spinal injury and can be extremely painful.
If you have one of the following symptoms, you are advised to consult a physician as soon as possible:
- Pain in the lumbosacral area (lower part of the back) is the primary symptom of low back pain.
- Pain that radiates down the front, side, or back of your leg, or which may be confined to the lower back.
- Pain that gets worse with activity or change of posture.
- Occasional pain that may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting or standing.
- Numbness or weakness in your lower back running down your buttock or leg.
- Tender lower back with or without bruising or swelling.
- Protruding disc
There are treatment options for milder spinal conditions but for more serious conditions and injuries, surgery may be the only solution. With risks involved with procedures, spinal health should not be taken lightly.
Speak to your doctor to find ways to strengthen your spine and maintain its health with age. It’s important to also enforce the rule with children. You don’t want the little ones to pick up things that are too heavy or carry schoolbags that are weighing them down too much.
Other ways to keep your spine healthy include yoga or deep stretching exercises that will gradually improve your flexibility and movement over time. It is not advised to proceed without your doctor’s approval.
When it comes to spine health, it’s best to leave the diagnosis to the professionals and give Dr. Google a break.