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Change your habits to beat that back pain

If you have ever had back pain, you know it is such a bad feeling. You can’t move without it aching, and almost any chore leaves you burnt out. The pain can be constant or intermittent, a dull ache or a sharp and piercing sensation that may spread into the arm or hand.

Rose Kiirya, a resident of Mbiko-Njeru in Jinja district is among those who have battled back pain for about three years now. However, Kiirya’s tall and somewhat energetic maternal figure is a disguise to the hell she is going through.

“Sometimes, I cannot cough or laugh without excruciating pain from my back and my lower back has developed itchy sores that I am ridding myself of with herbs,” Kiirya says.

Kiirya recalls that in December 2008, she literally crawled to Jinja referral hospital for help because the pain in her lower back was out of control.

“The orthopaedic surgeon was insistent that surgery was the only cure and would be needed immediately, so I agreed to it,” she recalls.

A week later, the excruciating back pain was gone as was the pain in her legs.  However in the wake of January 2009, Kiirya says she turned in her bed and lo and behold, the same pain was back although not as bad as the first one.

Kiirya resorted to taking plenty of muscle relaxants and painkillers and walking for almost 20 minutes every day, which has done a good job in reducing her pain since.
Backache, one of the most common ailments, is widely prevalent these days because of poor lifestyles and dangerous work patterns.

In most cases, the pain is usually felt either in the middle of the back or lower. It may spread to both sides of the waist and the hips. With acute pain, the patient is unable to move.

Long work hours in one position can make us ache as can lack of exercise, inadequate Vitamin D and calcium in one’s diet, slouching and obesity. Below are a couple of behaviours one may adopt to kill back pain.

Good sitting posture

Sitting badly can curve your spine into an unnatural ‘C’ shape when it should be a natural ‘S’ shape. Most of us spend all day at work and after work, we position ourselves in front of the TV. This can lead to serious back problems.

Dr. Alex Favour a physiotherapist with the International Medical Group says when one is seated, the shoulders should remain at the same distance with the rest of the body i.e. ears, shoulders and elbows. All these should be in straight alignment as this prevents one from bending.

“While reading information off a computer, eyes are supposed to be at the top of the monitor because we read at an angle and do not read straight,” he adds.
The distance between the eyes and the monitor should be 41-95 centimetres.

Another way you can prevent back pain is to use a chair with good back support and there are a number of them to choose from.

Go for a massage

Put aside any thought that a massage is only a luxury and has no real health benefits. On the contrary, hands-on healing helps you unwind, lowers blood pressure and promotes muscle relaxation. During a massage session, massage therapists use their hands and fingers to press and manipulate skin, tendons and muscles. As a result, the person receiving a massage experiences a level of circulation and physical renewal that is beneficial to curbing back ache.

Good diet

Alex Mokori, a nutrition specialist, says drinking eight to 10 glasses of water daily can help reduce pain as it helps flush out toxins.

“Water promotes healthy circulation, which brings nutrients to the spine and helps clear away waste products. Without proper circulation, inflammatory chemicals can build up around the spine and trigger back pain,” Mokori says.

He adds that more fruit and vegetables should be made part of one’s diet. Foods like avocado, green vegetables and beans should be regularly eaten as they act as analgesics (painkillers) on pain nerves and work within the brain to reduce sensitivity. However, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol and chocolate should be avoided.

Walk

Walking is the best natural health remedy for many kinds of conditions. According to an article: ‘Keeping your back straight’ by Anna Hart on www. backpainremedies.com, walking for about 45 minutes a day helps increase the heart rate.

“As you walk, hormones such as epinephrine and glucagon are released to fuel your muscles and stiffness subsides as your joints release lubricating fluid to help you move more easily,” she writes.

Get a comfortable mattress:

Dr Alan Hedge writes on Spineuniverse.com that a good mattress maintains the same natural spinal alignment you have when standing while a poor one will always bring on fatigue.

The article advises that when one is looking out for a mattress to buy, he/she should consider its durability, where a good one should last about 8-10 years and be relatively firm.

“It is not necessarily true that firmer is better. A mattress that is too firm does not support the body evenly, tending only to support the body’s heaviest parts while that which is too soft sags and prevents the spine from maintaining proper alignment,” Dr Hedge writes.

He adds that a good mattress should support the spine in its natural curve. He advises people to change their mattresses if they are worn out and frayed, the foundation squeaky and when it’s no longer providing you with enough support to give you a good night’s rest.

Dr Favour adds that care should be taken when lifting heavy loads and advises people to wash while standing and not bending as this may put a strain on the backbone.

ninsiima@observer.ug

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