There is a saying that there is no adult who has not experienced back pain at least once or twice. That is correct. According to an announcement by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, as of 2021, there are 11.31 million people with spinal diseases in Korea. This means that more than 2 out of 10 people have received or are receiving treatment for their back problems.
Until 2012, the average age of patients diagnosed with spinal disease was 41.8 years old. In 2021, it was lowered to 36.9 years. The number of young people with spinal diseases is increasing. In fact, 40% of new patients in 2021 were in their 20s and 30s.
The most common spinal diseases are herniated intervertebral discs and spinal stenosis. However, not everyone’s condition is bad enough to require hospital treatment. If managed properly, you can go about your daily life without going to the hospital. We met with Jaehyuk Yang, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Korea University Anam Hospital, and heard about how to self-diagnose and manage back problems.
● Let’s start with common sense about back diseases.Professor Yang said, “Not all back pain is caused by ‘disc’.” There are various causes that cause back pain. Professor Yang said that muscle pain is often mistaken for spinal disc herniation or spinal stenosis. How are each disease different?
A herniated spinal disc is commonly referred to as a lumbar disc. Disc refers to the intervertebral disc, a structure between vertebrae. The disc is originally as soft as jelly. It is elastic and absorbs external shocks well. However, when degenerative changes occur, it becomes hard and its elasticity greatly decreases. In this situation, if an external shock is applied, the disc may bulge out or rupture.
Intervertebral disc herniation often occurs in relatively young people in their 20s to 50s. If you live with the wrong posture while thinking, ‘I’m still okay,’ or if you do strength training that puts too much force on your back, there is a high chance of suffering from a herniated disc.
Spinal stenosis is literally a disease in which the spinal canal is narrowed. The spinal canal is a passage through which nerves pass. When this area becomes narrow, the nerves are compressed, causing pain. The area and intensity of symptoms vary depending on which nerve is compressed and how many nerve bundles are compressed.
Spinal stenosis also occurs in people in their 40s. However, in cases where the condition is bad enough to require medical treatment, it is often after the age of 60. It is one of the representative degenerative diseases that occur in elderly people.
Regardless of the two diseases, there are times when your back hurts. It is often just simple muscle pain. In this case, the cause is muscle tightness. In other words, you only need to relax your tense muscles. Although it varies from person to person, the pain usually disappears within 7 days.
● Pain pattern-intensity must be carefully observed.If the pain gets worse, it is best to get tested at a hospital. So, when is it better to go to the hospital when pain occurs? The pain pattern varies slightly depending on the disease.
When it comes to spinal discs, back pain is the most common. The area where my back and buttocks connect is mainly very painful. The pain may spread to the legs, and in the case of leg pain, it often feels sharp, as if cut with a knife. Among spinal diseases, back pain has the highest intensity. Professor Yang said, “If the most painful situation is 10 points, the pain intensity of the spinal disc is 7 to 8 points. “It can be so painful that you can’t straighten your back,” he said.
In the case of a spinal disc, pain occurs both at rest and when moving. However, because the pain occurs when the disc is pressed against a nerve, the same type of pain occurs when you assume the same posture. If these symptoms persist for 3 to 7 days, it is very likely that it is a spinal disc.
Even if you have back pain, if it occurs in a different area every time or in an uneven position, it is likely to be muscle pain. The pain at this time is low in intensity and has a strong squeezing feeling rather than a sharp feeling. Pain may occur after working or exercising more than usual. This type of acute pain may not go away even after three days. However, if you take painkillers and rest, most symptoms get better within 7 days. Even in severe cases, it does not last longer than 3 to 6 weeks.
In case of spinal stenosis, the pain starts in the lower back and spreads to the legs, just like in case of spinal disc. However, the range of back pain extends to below the buttocks. The pain intensity is about 4 to 5 points.
It is different from a spinal disc in that the pain mainly occurs during movement. For example, there is no pain when you are still, but if you start walking, back pain appears within 5 to 10 minutes. Then, if you sit down and rest, the pain disappears in 1 to 2 minutes. Professor Yang explained, “This is a phenomenon that occurs because when you start an activity, the energy supplied to the compressed nerve decreases, but when you rest, the energy supply increases again.”
If you have spinal stenosis, pain tends to decrease when you lean your upper body forward. This is completely different from the spinal disc. In the case of a spinal disc, if you lean your upper body forward, the pressure on the disc increases and the pain gets worse.
● Exercise should also vary depending on the disease.It is good to exercise regularly to prevent spinal diseases. However, excessive exercise can actually damage the spine. Professor Yang said, “Depending on the disease, both the timing and tips for exercise are different.”
Once you have been diagnosed with a spinal herniated disc, you can engage in exercise such as walking, but you should avoid strength training for a while. Professor Yang said토토사이트, “In the acute stage, the disc needs time to heal. “You need to rest for at least 4 to 6 weeks,” he said.
Can I do strength training afterward? Professor Yang is also negative about this. When he felt that the pain had reduced by more than 80%, he should start exercising. Of course, it is a good idea to frequently do ‘extension exercises’ to straighten your back. Intentionally raise your upper body, straighten your back, and walk with the feeling of sticking out your stomach.
The case of spinal stenosis is a little different. Rather, the disease may worsen due to lack of exercise. Therefore, you should do enough strength training on a regular basis. In addition to extension exercises, it is especially good to strengthen your butt muscles. Professor Yang said, “If you are in your 40s and 50s, working hard in just three sports, including squats, planks, and push-ups, will be of great help.”
If you experience back pain repeatedly when you wake up in the morning or when you walk for more than 30 minutes, you most likely have spinal stenosis. However, in this case, it is not at a level that requires immediate treatment. It’s good to exercise. For example, in the morning, if you lie down and stretch your back for 10 to 15 minutes, then stand up slowly or walk with your upper body stretched out, the symptoms will largely disappear.
● You need to build your waist, buttocks, and calf muscles.Professor Yang said, “You must strengthen your hip and calf muscles together to prevent your back disease from getting worse.” Professor Yang recommended five movements that anyone can do, regardless of age. You must take some time to rest after exercising. Only then can your muscles grow.① Place your hands on the desk and lift your back foot into tiptoe posture. At this time, slightly stick out your stomach and feel as if you are leaning your upper body back. Also, intentionally apply force to your buttocks. Maintain this posture for 3 seconds. It is good to do this movement whenever you have time② Stand facing the desk or stand sideways. Walk in place with one arm on the desk. At this time, your knees should be lifted so that they are at a right angle. Your stomach should feel slightly protruded. It’s a good idea to do this exercise whenever you have time.③ Lie down on the floor with your head raised. Then, push the floor with both hands and raise only your upper body. At this time, your lower body should not come off the floor. Slowly raise your upper body and focus on your lower body. Repeat 2 or 3 sets of 15 times.④Lie down facing the ceiling. Lift both arms and legs. At this time, your knees should be at a right angle. In that state, swing your arms and legs alternately. If you extend your left arm toward your head, extend your right arm toward your feet. You should feel like you are pressing your stomach into the floor. Repeat 2 or 3 sets of 15 times.⑤ Assume a crawling posture. In this state, the left arm is extended forward and the right foot is extended backward. After about 5 seconds, switch arms and legs and repeat the same technique. Repeat 2 or 3 sets of 15 times.