What Can You Do To Help Your Back and/or Neck?

In our fast-paced society, we often look for “quick fix” solutions to quickly remove the pain. We need to understand that in many instances, back or neck pain become obvious as a result of years of “neglect” of the spine. Patients with back or neck pain can become sedentary, or become out of shape, gaining weight that places more strain on the low back. Our goal at the Centre for Spine and Scoliosis Surgery (CSS) is to make your back or neck stronger, more flexible, and thus reducing the chance of further injury. Many of these can be achieved by educating you on the structure and function of the spine, and the lifestyle modifications that may accompany.

While a spinal injection or surgery can help relieve symptoms, not maintaining spinal muscle strength and flexibility, or use of good body mechanics can increase your likelihood of future problems. You have to remember that as you get older,

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especially past the age of 40, the back is more prone to injury. You may need to avoid lifting heavy objects, or participating in contact sports involving twisting, bending, and jumping, because these activities can damage your back or neck.

Ergonomics is important, and it means matching the

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sure your chair molds properly to your back. If you are too short or too tall for your back to rest properly in your chair, or if your company does not offer ergonomically designed chairs, consider bringing in a rolled-up towel. Place it behind your low back to reduce the amount of stress on the back. While sitting, make sure your feet rest flat on the floor. If this is a problem, use a footstool. Proper foot and leg alignment will ease back stress. While typing on a computer, your forearms and thighs should be parallel to ensure proper shoulder alignment. If necessary, use a pad to support your wrists while typing. The monitor should be at eye-level or slightly below eye-level. Last but not least, always get up and move around every half hour, even if it is just a quick stretch by the side of your desk.

Some jobs require standing for many hours at a stretch. People rarely distribute their weight equally onto both legs while standing. They tend to shift their weight from one side to another, throwing the spine out of

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alignment, which can lead to back strain.

If you have difficulty standing without shifting weight, try standing with one leg on a footrest, periodically switching feet. It is also important to do back stretches now and

then in order to reduce stiffness of the back.

Lifting is a common activity in our daily life. When lifting, maneuver the object close to your body, and use the strength in your legs to get the object off the ground, rather than your low back. Whenever possible, your back should not bend forward when lifting something, however light it may appear.
Contributing Specialist:

Dr Hee Hwan Tak
MBBS, FRCS (Ed), FRCS (Glas), FAMS (Ortho)
Medical Director and Senior Consultant, Pinnacle Spine & Scoliosis Centre
Mobile: 65-98283132
Tel: 65-67370680
Fax: 65-67370522
Emergency: 65-97718964
Website: http://www.p-ortho.com
3 Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, #04-07, Singapore 228510
Adjunct Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Panel of Medical Experts, The Subordinate Courts of Singapore

Associate Editorial Board Member, The Spine Journal (USA)


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