Self medication for backache can be dangerous

self-medicationBack pain has become synonymous with a fast paced urban life. So much so that some experts say that around 40% of the population could be a victim of excruciating backache that compromises their quality of life.

Working late in the office almost every day, driving home via pothole-ridden and traffic-congested roads and sitting in front of his laptop for hours has been a routine for 36-year-old Vipul.’s for the last 13 years. He continued with this taxing routine unmindful of the harm it was causing to his body until he started complaining of pain in the back and right leg. He was diagnosed with herniated disc – a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) between bones (vertebrae) that form human spine.

Doctors say the number of people in the capital complaining of spinal problems has increased tremendously over the past five years. “Although herniations often result from jobs that require lifting, it is nowadays noticed in people with sedentary jobs. It is a difficult problem to diagnose as patients come with vague symptoms like chronic backache and those disguised of sciatica.,” said Dr Abhisekh Mishra, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals.

A herniated disk occurs when some of the softer jelly pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior of the vertebrae due to incorrect posture. A herniated (torn) disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg.

Computer work has generated a new type of occupational health problem. Eight out of 10 people spending more than eight hours working on computers get back pain. “It is very important to take 5-10 minutes off every working hour to stretch and unload. Maintaining correct posture, following ergonomics, daily exercises and a good diet are essential for maintaining healthy spine and thereby a quality life.” said Dr Yuvraj Kumar, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, NCR.

Temporary measures like popping painkillers, using ointment, sprays and going for frequent massage to control back pain have long-term implications on spine, say experts. “Accurate diagnosis is the key to successful treatment. Taking medicines does not solve the problem. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to gastric problems like peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, long-term effect of which are deleterious and may even cause renal failure which is irreversible. Also, non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to severe osteoporosis of bone.” Inform the experts.

Vinod Kumar

Health Journalist & writer. Editor of monthly health magazine "Health Spectrum."

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