Dealing with Back Pain (Treatment in Singapore)

60-90% of the population will experience back pain in Singapore.  Chances are you or someone you know has suffered from back pain at some point in their life. It can catch you by surprise and drastically limit your mobility and function. 1 in 2 employees took 4-7 days off work for their back pain in the past year. It decreases productivity and one’s quality of life.

However, back pain doesn’t have to be the norm. At the Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic, our experts can help you bounce back from back pain and prevent future incidents.

What Causes Back Pain?

The back is a complicated structure, consisting of neural networks, the spine, and muscles.

However, everything in the body is connected. Back pain may be caused by a tight muscle, structural abnormalities, neurological issues such as nerve compression, and more.

The spine consists of small bones called vertebrae. In between each bone is a disc. These discs prevent bone-on-bone contact, as well as act as shock-absorbers. Within the spine is the spinal cord. The spinal cord contains the nerves that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body, allowing your brain to communicate to your muscles and joints to perform certain movements.

Further, muscles connect to various points of the spine and pelvis. The condition of these muscles, such as strength and flexibility, can impact your posture and alignment. If these muscles aren’t functioning properly, back pain may occur.

There are a variety of causes of back pain. Some of the most common causes include a slipped disc, osteoarthritis, poor posture, and tight muscles.

A Slipped Disc

A slipped disc, or herniated disc, is the displacement of the shock absorbing disc in between the spinal vertebrae. It may occur due to twisting or moving incorrectly or due to wear and tear over time. Consequently, it may place pressure on nearby nerves.

‘Sciatica’ is the common term used in conjunction with a slipped disc condition. The disc may place pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing numbness, pain, tingling, and weakness to occur down the legs.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the wearing down of the protective cartilage between bones. In the spine, it is often due to the wearing down of the protective discs. With age, these discs naturally become dehydrated. Some refer to this as ‘degenerative disc disease.’

It frequently occurs in the neck or low back, and may cause varying degrees of pain and functional limitations.

Poor Posture

Your body is made to move a certain way. Further, your joints, muscles, and tissues are optimized for proper posture. Unfortunately, a lot of people lack proper posture.

Today, many people lead fairly sedentary lives. We sit at desks all day, jeopardizing our posture and causing certain muscles to shorten. Flexibility and strength decrease.

When we place our body in unnatural positions, dysfunctions occur. For example, if you are leaning forward all day with your head protruding toward your computer screen, you are placing stress on your neck and shoulder muscles, bones, and tissues.

Bad posture can also lead to added stress on the lower back. The body isn’t made to sit in such positions for prolonged periods. And as much as it tries to adapt, back pain is often inevitable without proper intervention or education.

Tight Muscles

Sitting for long periods may also contribute to tight muscles. The hamstrings, hip flexors, and piriformis muscles may become tense or shortened. Due to their attachment points and locations, these muscles can pull on the pelvis and spine causing pain.

Frequently called ‘Piriformis Syndrome,’ the piriformis muscle may spasm and compress the sciatic nerve creating radiating pain down the legs.

However, sports doctor can educate you and help you overcome these conditions. With proper treatment and care, you can decrease and eliminate your back pain issues.

How is Back Pain Treated in Singapore?

Back pain is treated in a number of ways. It frequently depends on the cause.

Pain relievers, such as over-the-counter NSAIDs, may help decrease initial pain and inflammation. However, it isn’t recommended to use these medications in the long-term. Negative side-effects, including gastrointestinal issues, may occur with chronic use.

Exercise, supervised and provided by a trained professional, can help decrease your risk of back pain and eliminate future injuries. Frequently, back pain in Singapore is caused by inactivity and muscle weakness.

The most common form of rehab exercise for back pain involves the strengthening of the neglected transverse abdominals, or TA. The TA muscles are the deep and lower core muscles. They help support and stabilize the spine and pelvis, acting as a girdle. When this muscle is weak, we try to compensate in other ways. However, this often results in injury and pain, specifically in the low back.

A back pain exercise program will focus on strengthening these abdominal muscles, as well as stretching out shortened or tight muscles. Doing so helps reduce pain and dysfunction of the spine. A basic TA exercise to get you started involves:

  • Lying face up, with your knees bent and your feet planted on the ground.
  • Imagine a tightrope pulling your hip bones together or stopping the flow of urine. You can feel with your fingers in between your hip bones to determine if you are tightening your TA muscle or not. Your stomach should not bulge upward, just tighten.
  • Your low back should remain on the ground or bed. Make sure to keep breathing throughout the exercise. A lot of people tend to hold their breath. However, this is incorrect.
  • Try holding the contraction for 5 seconds to start. Build up to 10 second holds. Perform the exercise 10-12 times and at least 2-3 times per day.

 

Common problematic muscles that may also lead to back pain, include the hamstrings, hip flexors, and piriformis. The hamstrings or hip flexors may become tight, which may pull on the pelvis. In turn, this creates alignment issues. Your lower back may become under stress in this unnatural position. Thus, pain may occur. To correct these issues, your sports doctor will prescribe exercises to stretch out and elongate these muscles. They may also use manual techniques to promote healing and to release muscular tension.

The piriformis, as aforementioned, can spasm and compress the sciatic nerve, causing back pain and radiating pain down the legs. Myofascial release techniques and stretches can help release this small muscle, reducing and preventing future incidences.

In combination with exercise, a manual therapist or sport doctor can perform joint manipulations, traction, myofascial release, and other techniques to help alleviate your pain levels. Each treatment protocol is suited to your particular needs.

In severe cases and where other treatment options fail to work, surgery may be used as a last resort. At the Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic, our sports doctor are qualified to perform such surgeries. They can prepare you before surgery and help guide recovery post-surgery.

Types of Back Surgery

There are many types of back surgery. Again, it depends on the cause of your back pain as to what kind of surgery you have. Also, surgery is only considered when other interventions have failed to work. The 3 most common surgeries include:

Discectomy: This surgery may be performed when an individual has a slipped disc. The doctors removes the damaged part of the disc.

Laminectomy: Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal column, which can cause neural issues to arise. In this type of surgery, the lamina portion of the spine is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

Spinal Fusion: 2 or more vertebrae are fused together in this type of surgery. It limits movement between the 2 vertebrae, reducing pain brought on by the motion of these 2 bones. This is often done in cases where the spine has been damaged or a deformity has occurred.

Your sports doctor will thoroughly explain the surgery prior to. Again, these surgeries are only performed when all other interventions and treatments have been unsuccessful. Frequently, surgery will improve one’s pain levels. However, in some cases, it may not fully fix the problem. Exercises and other treatment protocols can help manage the remaining pain post-surgery.

Orthopaedic Care & Treatment of Back Pain in Singapore

At the Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic, our injury experts can help you thwart back pain in Singapore and get you back to your regular activities.

Your sport doctor will conduct a thorough assessment. From their assessment, they will come up with an appropriate treatment plan, including exercise, manual techniques, and education. Call or visit our clinic today! Regain back control of your life and rid yourself of back pain for good.

Types of Lower Back Pain (Lumbago)

Back pain is something that no one wants to deal with; however, many people deal with it daily. Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of different scenarios ranging from a pulled muscle to something more involved such as a slipped disc or degenerative disc disease. Understanding low back pain, or lumbago as it is sometimes called, is easier to do when you know what you’re dealing with. Check out the different types of lower back pain and what they are caused by. Learning the signs and symptoms may help you to find a diagnosis quicker rather than later.

Sciatica Back Pain

Many people suffer from this type of pain where the sciatic nerve is being compressed. It causes pain in the lower back that shoots down the leg when the area is aggravated. It can cause shooting pain when you try to stand up or change positions, is worse when sitting down, and can cause weakness in your leg or foot of the affected nerve. This lower back pain needs to be seen by a doctor as if it is left untreated, it can cause permanent nerve damage.

Nighttime Back Pain

If you’re able to get relief when you lay down from the pain you’re dealing with during the day, most times you can start to heal. Rest is needed and is very crucial for the body’s healing process. However, if you’re dealing with nighttime back pain, laying down to rest can make the pain worse. Lower back pain when you lay down can be caused by things such as arthritis, kidney stones, spinal disease, or degeneration of the spine. Because you cannot rest when you lay down with nighttime pain, you should consider seeing your doctor sooner rather than later. As mentioned, rest is crucial to the healing process and pain when you try to rest could be a sign of a more serious lumbago pain.

Low Back Strain

You can strain your lower back region by doing a variety of things such as sitting in one position for too long, moving heavy objects, or physically exerting yourself over your limits. With a strain in your lower back you may feel things such as stiffness in your back when trying to move about, pain in the thighs or buttocks, and even pain that gets worse whenever you cough or try to bend over. If so, you should consult your doctor as this can be a simple strain or signs of a worse condition.

Lower back pain is not something to just push to the side. If you’re dealing with lumbago, lower back pain, it is best to consult your doctor to rule out anything serious and prevent irreversible nerve damage. You can also learn more about the professional treatment options for back pain here.

What is Piriformis Syndrome? – Symptoms and Treatment

When you’re suffering from pain in the buttocks or lower back pain, you may be on the journey to find out the source of the pain. There are many different aspects that could be causing your pain and symptoms including injury, bruising, bursitis or piriformis syndrome. There could be other causes as well but discovering what piriformis syndrome is can sometimes alleviate all your lower back pain problems.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

This problem is not too common but can cause pain in the buttocks, lower back, and it can radiate down the leg and into the feet. This problem is typically caused by some sort of compression on the sciatic nerve or a contraction of the piriformis muscle itself. This contraction can cause the nerve to be compressed and it can be quite painful to deal with pain in this area.

This can be caused by trauma to your back or piriformis muscle itself, overuse of the area, and sometimes a pinched nerve can be irritated and can cause the contractions which will make the pain more intense.

Symptoms to Look For

If you’re wondering if your lower back pain is stemming from the piriformis muscle, here are a few symptoms to look for:

  • Tingling or numbness
  • Pain becomes more severe when you try to do certain things such as climbing stairs, stretching your legs out straight, or walking can sometimes cause the pain to worsen
  • The pain can radiate from the back down to your foot

 

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

A variety of treatment options are available to help you deal with this intense pain that piriformis syndrome can cause.  Some find that doing stretches to help the muscle relax and stretch out can offer great relief from the pain. Some exercises such as Yoga positions can also help to relieve the muscle contraction and work the muscle loose. Some treatment methods include physical therapy or massage can help to relieve that muscle cramping and contraction.

The use of NSAID’s can also be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain in this case. Injection therapy has also been used and in very rare cases, surgery is needed to help relieve the pain and the pressure placed on the nerves.

If you’re suffering from this type of lower back pain it can cause you to miss out on so many things. You can do some stretches and exercises at home, coupled with a lot of rest to help the muscle relax and release the contractions. It’s very important that if you suffer from this syndrome that you keep stretched and be sure to not do any activities that could aggravate the problem.

Top 4 Yoga Injuries: Prevention

All around the world you’ll find people getting into the sun salutation position or downward dog at their local Yoga studio. Maybe they’re even doing Yoga at home with their own mat and via the television. Either way, Yoga injuries can still occur if you are not careful. Just like any other sport you can experience lower back pain or other injuries if you do not do the positions as they are meant to be. Check out a few of the ways people get injured during Yoga and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

Wrist Pain

One of the most common Yoga injuries is pain to the wrists during the poses. A lot of times your wrist carries most of your body weight in the poses and this can lead to injuries. You have to learn the right techniques to leveraging the weight while still holding the correct position.

Shoulder Pain

Be careful not to shrug your shoulders and hold them up to high during your positions. When you raise your shoulders up to your ears, you are not allowing the neck muscles to support you as they should. This can cause pain and injury to your shoulder areas.

Lower Back Pain

While many people use these stretches to relieve lower back pain, some end up having pain because of improperly doing the pose. When you are folding forward in your positions, you want to make sure that you take it slowly and do the position in the correct way. Otherwise it leaves your back going in the wrong direction which can lead to disc pain or injury.

Knee Pain

This can arise from sitting in the Lotus position which is a full cross-legged position. If you have knee pain already, then it’s best to avoid this position. Always make sure that you do not aggravate your pain by pushing your body further than it’s ready to go.

How to Prevent Yoga Injuries

It is vital that you learn the correct positioning for all poses before starting a full class. You can take the beginners class or work with a trainer before pushing yourself too far. They can help you learn the correct way to get into position and hold it without putting yourself in danger of injuries. While Yoga is a fabulous way to get exercise and flexibility, it can also be painful if you push your body farther than you should. Take it slow and learn the right techniques, and in no time you’ll be doing the head stands!