Doctors say - Get up and move, stand and stretch to manage lower back pain
Much as bone, muscle, and neck pain, currently lower back pain is commonly seen among children and adults during these unprecedented times.
In the post-pandemic new normal, children have to attend online schooling, classes, while adults are forced to work from home. Increased screen time, poor posture, physical inactivity, and erratic schedules have induced back pain in the children age group 8 to 20 and adults the age group of 25-50.
Doctors say it is essential to stick by ergonomics, maintain a good posture while sitting, avoid lifting heavy objects and divide household chores between the family to relieve lower back pain.
Fourteen-year-old Shubham encountered backache and easy fatigue for the last two months due to online schooling. His pain didn't subside even after medications. Then, he was recommended physiotherapy for posture correction. Mild pain killer for quick relief, and hot fomentation.
Dr. Vishwajit Chavan, Orthopedic Consultant -Shoulder, and Knee arthroscopy and Joint Replacement- Apollo Spectra Pune said, “Now, over a year, due to the pandemic, children and adults are at home and doing their online schooling classes and work from home that has taken a toll on their back. Even housewives are required to do household chores in the absence of domestic help, and that too has aggravated lower back pain.”
“The main reason is due to sitting longer duration in one position or due to work from home people tend to have food in smaller intervals but in large portion. Hence, they don’t move around much due to the completion of work within a deadline. That increases the stress, one eats unhealthy food and back problems occur," Dr Chavan pointed out.
Dr. Mayank Pathak, Orthopedic and Joint-Replacement Surgeon, Apollo Clinic- Pune, said, “Initially, the work from the home policy got a green signal from many employees. But, the extended shifts and online classes, lifting heavy objects, poor posture while sitting, due to unavailability of specially designed chairs for back and adjustable monitors, many children and adults are complaining of lower back pain as they are sitting long in the wrong posture that has led to pain in the spine. Binge-watching movies with a lack of sleep and rest while at home can cause stiffness and back pain. And those with existing back problems are also having difficulties as their pain has increased."
Dr. Pathak explained: “Approximately, there is a two-fold increase in patient age group 8-20 years and four-time increase in the adults' of age group of 25- 50 years who have been visiting us with complaints of back pain on a daily basis over last 6 months during and after the second wave.”
“Don’t just rest on bed for longer hours as the body can become stiff,” he said and gave these prescriptions: “Get up and move, stand and stretch to manage lower back pain. Children and adults should opt for a cold compress to elevate back pain. Avoid sugary, processed, and fried foods that can increase the pain, limit food intake from restaurants and eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Include onion, berries, ginger, turmeric, and garlic in the diet to tackle lower back pain.”
“Bed, couches, kitchen table or sofas have now become working desks so make sure you have a dedicated desk and chair for work and online classes. Maintain a good posture while sitting, do not sit with a hunched back or in a slouched position, and take frequent breaks. Squat to lift heavy objects and adults should not do any rigorous exercises without warm-ups. The red-flags of back pain are unintentional weight loss, gait disturbance, fever, or weakness in the nerve and limbs and should not be ignored. Use a good chair that supports the spine,” Dr. Pathak added.