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Monday, January 25, 2021

Spine care should not be ignored because of Covid-19 – Dr Sunny Kamat, Orthopaedic Spine Specialist, Manipal Hospital – Goa

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COVID-19 has drastically changed the way the world runs. People are learning to embrace the new normal which has forced us to undergo major lifestyle changes. Working from home, end-to-end household work, unhygienic eating habits, minimal exercise, and increased amounts of stress are causing a lot of physical drainage in people. One major problem that people are experiencing in this new lifestyle is regular back pain.

In this COVID era, due to work from home culture, poor ergonomics at home, and scarcity of maids during lockdown has resulted in lots of strain on our backs. But most of the time it is self-limiting and goes away even without doing anything. This is because of most of the back problems can be addressed by exercises or modifications in lifestyle & activities or medications. In some cases, if the pain gets aggravated and radiates to the legs or stays for a long time, people must consult the doctor. Sometimes postponement of diagnosis can cause loss of muscle strength or foot drop which can potentially lead to Cauda equina syndrome, which is caused due to large intervertebral disk prolapse compressing the spinal nerves. In this condition, the patient can develop paralysis below the waist along with loss of bowel and bladder control which, if not treated on time, can cause irreversible damage to nerves. The fear of COVID should not keep us away from getting treatment for such back pains as they can cause serious damage to the spine.

 

With the advancement of technology, the complexities of surgeries are minimized with several innovations which can also reduce the time required for the treatment. For example, Minimally Invasive Spine (MIS) Surgery, also called as Key Hole Surgery, is one such innovation which possesses enormous supremacy in comparison to open spine surgery, as it is performed through a small incision. With MIS surgery, there is no collateral muscle and tissue damage as there are minimal muscle and tissue splitting. This also cuts down the hospital stay to just one or two days and the patient experiences very minimal post-surgery pain as compared to open spine surgeries. 

 

With such timely technologies available at our disposal and with hospitals taking strict safety and precautionary measures, the fear of COVID should not stop us from getting treated for any arising backpains which, if ignored, will deteriorate the health of the spine. To make healthcare services accessible, hospitals are adopting different ways to provide timely consultations to the patients. Online consultations are picking up pace where doctors can address the concerns of the patients and provide them with suitable medication or prescribe tests, if necessary.

 

Lastly, apart from saving ourselves from COVID-19, we should also keep saving our spine and get our back on track by following these simple tips:

  • Position the laptop in such a way that the top of the screen is at the eye level. Use a chair with good lumbar support. 
  • Avoid hunching over your laptop. Stretch your neck from time to time. 
  • Take a break every 45 minutes. Go for a quick walk or stretch your back. 
  • Adapt to safe techniques while doing household chores, especially while lifting heavy objects from the floor and while mopping the floor.

Despite this, if the back problem persists then you can either opt for an online consultation or visit a doctor by taking all the precautionary measures. Use a face mask, avoid unnecessary physical contact, sanitize regularly, and don’t break social distancing norms. Let’s keep ourselves and our dear ones away from this virus and make our health safety an utmost priority.

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