Brief profile: Abhi Tikkisetty is a senior Physiotherapist in the musculoskeletal department of Waikato DHB and shares his variety of clinical skills with a couple of other Hamilton clinics. Otago educated, Abhi has extensive skills and experience by working in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. He has special interest in pain management & vocational rehab (NewsViews).
By: Abhi Tikkisetty
Last five-weeks of COVID-19 lockdown has forced majority of the New Zealand’s population to stay and work from their homes.
Spending hours in front of computers and/or glued to TV screens and lack of required physical activity, has seen more cases of people complaining of back pain.
It is important for people to remain active. In spite of the government having permitted walks within close proximity of their homes, many people did not take that opportunity and stayed indoors. Now, with some more relaxations during alert level 3, it is all the more important for people to go out to get fresh air and do more vigorous walks.
Maintaining a bad posture while sitting, prolonged sitting at one place, or lifting heavy loads inappropriately, leads to back pains.
If timely and proper care is not taken when the first symptoms occur, this may result in chronic or persistent back pain- usually in the lower back, and affects 20% of the world population.
For the majority of people who have injured their back it may hurt for a few days or weeks. But as time goes along the injured area starts to heal and people return to their previous level of function. However, for around one fifth of the population this is not always the case. Despite the body part healing, they continue to experience ongoing discomfort.
Take timely & proper care of your back. Maintain its mobility and don’t let it become deconditioned, says Waikato DHB’s senior Physio, Abhi Tikkisetty ~ exclusive to NewsViews.
Understanding persistent lower back pain requires a brief understanding of a remarkable system in the human body – the Brain. Our brain interprets the pain signals sent from all over the body and decides if the pain signal it is receiving requires any action.
In case of ongoing inflammation in the lower back patients, the brain receives a constant signal that a body part is effected or injured. This causes the brain to instruct the body to further protect the area and limits the movement of the back.
Unfortunately, this is an undesirable response because further limiting the movement causes the muscles around the back to become deconditioned. As a result, it becomes much easier to re-injure that part of the body. We naturally start to compensate and sometimes unknowingly overprotect the area. If the nerves are constantly sending messages of pain to the brain, it concludes that the threat remains and that you need protection all the time.
This is precisely the reason all clinicians encourage patients to keep moving after a back injury. It is important that the muscles do not enter a state where they become deconditioned and the body over protects the spinal muscles.
Physios are trained in prescribing strengthening exercises based on your clinical presentation. The aim of this is to reactivate muscles so that they maintain and return back to their normal strength. A stronger muscle will decrease the painful signal being sent to the brain eventually decreasing the pain experience.
Therefore, one of the best treatment for chronic lower back pain is to keep an active lifestyle. Even those who are unable to go out you can have a short walk up and down your drive way, arching your back for a few seconds every few hours or performing some indoor core strengthening exercises to avoid back pain.
If you are wanting specific exercises then its best to consult your Physiotherapist. Otherwise ,some of the below exercises are useful to keep yourself and your back mobile and start the strengthening process for your lower back.
i) While standing, place your hands on your hips and arch backwards.
ii) Practice stretching your back by kneeling on your hands and knees, then bring your buttocks to your heels.
iii) Lie on your stomach keeping your hips on the bed or carpet, if on floor. Use your arms to push your upper body up.
Remember, whatever exercise you do, objective is to keep your back mobile and let not muscles become deconditioned.
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