How to make that backache vanish

New Delhi: A sedentary lifestyle, bad posture, stress and overdependence on technology could leave you with a constant backache. But experts say sometimes the problem can be easily sorted out with the right diagnosis and a little care.

Experts point out that the problem of lower back pain is fairly common. About 80 per cent experience pain at some point in life.

"The major culprits of back pain, especially in young adults, is stressful and long working hours stretching up to 12 hours and more, lack of proper physical activity, bad habits such as reading while lying down, slouching in front of the TV, etc, coupled with weight issues," B.K. Dhaon, head of the department of orthopaedics at Sharda Hospital, said.

What comes as a surprise is that fitness-conscious youngsters, who are regulars at gyms, also suffer from it. In such cases, bad sitting posture is often to be blamed, says Amit Kumar Mishra, an orthopaedic surgeon.

"Abnormal sitting posture is the main culprit in youngsters who are otherwise fit and fine. These people have everything, including a healthy diet and nutrition, but the back is overstressed due to a non-compliant posture for long durations," he added.

Some example of bad posture are slouching or bending forward while working on the computer or reading in a lying position.

But there are some medical reasons too for constant backaches.

"Acute back strain, sprain due to injury, lifting of heavy weights. In old age, osteoporosis and fracture due to lack of calcium in the body can also lead to backache," said Dhaon.

"Back pain also occurs during and after pregnancy. This is because of two reasons: there is extra weight and hence extra pressure on the lower back and due to the hormonal changes during this time, the ligaments of the lower spine get relaxed and become more prone to pain," he added.

Under normal circumstances, Rajesh Verma, consultant orthopaedic at Artemis Health Institute, says one can keep the problem away by taking care of his or her sitting postures.

"Sit with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair. Bend your knees at a right angle. Do not sit with your knees crossed. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips," he said.

"Keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed," he added.

A healthy diet and better lifestyle can help as well.

"It is important to get up and become active if one has a sedentary lifestyle. Also, maintaining a healthy weight is required. Paying attention to how much calories you take and burn and making a habit of choosing healthier foods coupled with regular exercise help in maintaining a healthy back," said Dhaon.

Experts also suggest it is important not to ignore back pain and identify the exact reason behind it at the right time.

"Back pain should not be taken lightly when the following red flag signs are present - night pain, radiating pain down to the legs, numbness, sensory deficit or weakness," said Mishra.

"The problem of sciatica which is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve is very common and is often misdiagnosed. Hence getting to the root of your backache is a prerequisite for speedy recovery," he added.

Dhaon also suggests if the back pain persists for a week or more, it is time to consult a doctor who can help you in identifying whether your backache is due to an irritated nerve, muscle injury, a slip disc, some other underlying disease or bad posture.

Yoga and meditation on a daily basis also help to relieve the problem. Asanas like shawasana and naukaasana too can help, says Verma.

Reports suggest that psycho-social factors such as stress, anxiety, depression and mental stress also cause back pain.