Understanding The Cause of Back Pain

21 August 2021

Poor ergonomics is a big health risk for those working from home. Remote workers reported developing or having their existing back and joint pain worsen since working from home due to poor sitting posture or usage of non-ergonomic furniture for work.

There are many factors that cause back pain which can be related to pain in the muscle, joints, bones or ligament. In some cases, one may only experience pain when there's movement or when being static for too long.

Sunway Medical Centre, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Dr Johan Quah Boon Leong said that back pain is a vast disease that patients need to understand the mechanism leading to it.

He explained, there are many factors that cause back pain. Some people may have been born with abnormal curve in the spine, while some may have arthritis, degenerative spine or tumour.

"Normal cases of back pain is caused by awkward body posture, weak muscle, overexhausted body, or inflexible bones in daily activities such as walking, climbing up and down of stairs, going in and out of vehicle or praying; to name a few.

"When a person cannot perform his or her daily routine smoothly, that means there are some issues with the muscle strength or having trouble with joints flexibility," he said.

For pain due to bad posture, the person may treat it by undergoing posture correction, physiotherapy, or opt for short-term solutions such as taking painkillers, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and having ample rest.

Dr Johan Quah further explained that back pain due to degenerative spine is quite common among adults and the elderly. It is a process where the bones are worn out, the spinal disc and joints cannot be restored, causing the person to experience pain and discomfort.

In some cases, back pain can also be caused by the tumour at the spine which weakens the limbs, causing pain when there's movement. Altough it is not as common, but you should always consult with a specialist on the matter.

Back pain will get more severe when doing certain activities for too long. For example, sitting all day while working from home. Many people pay little attention that the pressure on the spine is greater when we sit compared to standing.

"We should take note of the 'red flags' when back pain becomes more serious at night causing sleep disruption, trauma on the neck or hips after a hard fall, numb or weak arms and legs, back pain in cancer patients, or when experiencing prolonged fever," Dr Johan Quah said, adding that anyone with these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention, in this case a neurosurgeon and spine surgeon.

When asked on preventive measures, Dr Johan Quah stressed on the importance of having good rest, consuming sufficient nutrients and calcium, exercising regularly to strengthen muscles and improve bone flexibility, and also eating a balanced diet.

"Recovering from back pain depends on the cause of pain. 70% of patients with slip disc can recover with painkillers without the need to undergo intensive treatment in three months. But it really depends on the causing factor," he wrapped, stressing on the importance of practising good sitting posture, using an ergonomic chair for better support, stretching frequently, and having quality sleep.

Source: Berita Harian