Back and neck problems are the second most common cause of hospital visits world-wide after the common cold. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from an episode of back or neck pain after the age of 50. Approximately 90-95% of these problems are not serious and are mostly the result of lifestyle problems related to work, activity, posture, injury or are health related viz obesity, smoking habit, sedentary lifestyle etc. People who suffer from back and neck pain are unsure about whom to see, when to see and what is urgent and non-urgent. When a spinal problem is serious it may need some intervention or surgery but in the case of majority of patients it is seldom required. However, there are several misconceptions regarding treatment even in cases when surgery is not required. People are moved from pillar to post between doctors, physiotherapist, yoga treatments, ayurvedic messages, acupuncture therapist, native treatments and also rely on tablets, belts and braces. Stress and depression often result because of chronic back and neck pain and this can be very serious and difficult to manage.
Several myths exist about the management and reduction of pain like reducing activity, avoiding exercises, resting, sleeping on the floor, avoiding a head pillow etc to help or reduce the pain. The patients feel that by being less active their pain will improve. Women in India are more prone to suffer from back and neck pain because of the nature of domestic chores that include bending, twisting and lifting weights. Also wearing high-heeled footwear and carrying heavy handbags increase the chances of back and neck pain. There are several false beliefs that women must avoid getting pregnant if they have back pain or should have a caesarean section if pain is persistent. Children are also vulnerable, since carrying heavy school bags lead to the possibility of disc problems as they grow. The elderly are prone to various problems in the spine due to osteoporosis, poor posture and reduced activity. Sitting is now compared to smoking a health related issue because majority of us spend time in jobs involving long hours of sitting and this has a huge impact on the body and spine due to poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, stress and obesity.
Major part of the treatment by some of the best spine surgeons in Chennai, India are focused on educating about the pain, possible origin, what can be done to prevent, how to modify your work style, the need for activity and muscle strengthening, losing weight and obtaining good posture. Realistic goals and limitations of doctors should also be understood. A combination of various treatments may also be needed to alleviate pain. There is also a terrible fear that surgery is very harmful and should be avoided, or left as the last possible options. This is also an incorrect assumption, as early intervention is some situations relieves suffering and restores function. The impression that people have that surgery will cripple them for life is untrue as there have been huge advancements with adequate safety measures for spine surgery.