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Standing up to back pain

Think of how hard your back works every day. Even if your job involves sitting at a desk, your back is constantly on the move— bending up and down, swaying sideto-side, twisting and turning. These, and other activities, can lead to back pain. Here’s how you can avoid it.

     Print Edition: June 29, 2008

Think of how hard your back works every day. Even if your job involves sitting at a desk, your back is constantly on the move— bending up and down, swaying sideto-side, twisting and turning. These, and other activities, can lead to back pain. Here’s how you can avoid it.

What are the causes?

The lower back, which supports a major part of your body weight, is the most vulnerable. Says Dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi: “Lower back pain is often a result of strained back muscles and ligaments due to stress, improper posture, heavy lifting and muscle spasms.”

Who’s affected?

Back pain usually afflicts those who are overweight or those who sit slouching for long periods of time. Says Dr Shankar Acharya, Senior Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi: “Back pain can occur at any age, but the peak time is between the ages of 40 and 59. Men and women tend to be affected equally.”

How to cure it?

The road to recovery varies from individual to individual and you’ll have to work out what suits you. However, there are a few general points.

  • Seek specialist help before acute problems become chronic.

  • Says Dr Gulati: "Applying alternate hot and cold compresses to the affected area may help relieve pain."

  • Says Dr Acharya: "Use an upright chair that supports your lower back. Stand up and stretch every 30-40 minutes."

  • To keep your spine strong, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. These nutrients help prevent osteoporosis, which is responsible for a lot of the bone fractures that lead to back pain.

—Manu Kaushik

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